SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Both the U.S. House and Senate are back to work, and the Farm Bill tops their to-do list. The last five-year Farm Bill expired at the end of September, and although the House and Senate have passed new bills, they have yet to be reconciled.
Randy Parker, CEO, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, said the delay is causing economic uncertainty for farmers, because it puts programs such as crop insurance on hold.
“It’s just part of the dysfunction that’s going on in Washington, D.C., and in the United States Congress at this time,” Parker said, “and quite honestly that’s troubling to me and to our organization, as Americans.”
A big point of contention is changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. The Senate approved about $4 billion dollars in SNAP cuts, while the House wants a $39 billion cut over 10 years. There are reports that a potential compromise would trim $8 billion from SNAP within a decade.
The Farm Bill delay is hurting Utah and much of the nation’s economy, Parker added. As severe weather grips the nation, he said crop insurance is top of mind.
“To use an insurance program to make sure that if a worse-case scenario comes around that you’re able to at least financially keep your head above water, that’s absolutely critical,” Parker explained.
The Farm Bureau is continually pressing Utah’s congressional delegation for action on the Farm Bill, he added.